By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood
It is no secret that this side has always supported our manager. Of course we didn’t make much of a fuss about it in the easy days when we won things and didn’t have the stadium debt hanging round our neck. At such a moment supporting Wenger was easy. But some 6 years ago when Untold Arsenal started it was made clear that we were behind the manager. We have had all the abuse in the world for taking that stance.
And in those years we had some big set backs. Players who wanted more money than we could afford. Players who heard little children screaming inside and listening to that little child… With short term success. But maybe now he is cursing himself for having listened to this cry for more money and a trophy.
But it affected Arsenal and our manager big time. But he went his way. And even then he never said a bad word about the players that put a knife in his back. He always remained the gentleman we like.
Now of course when we talk about Wenger and praise him for all he has done for Arsenal including keeping us in the CL all those difficult years some people dismiss this. As we are up in his **** as they put it. But if you look further than the negative English press and look at voices and opinions from outside you only see praise for Wenger and for what he has done for Arsenal. Just ask Moyes how difficult it is to take a championship winning team over and do the same.
In Europe Wenger is admired for what he has done with Arsenal in those “x years without a trophy”. And most of all because he could have walked away from us and left us in a enormous crisis. But he kept his promise towards the board that he would do his best to achieve he maximum possible with the means he had and with the players he had. A job well done.
And if you care to listen to some people in the game in England you can hear that there are people who also look differently at the mantra used in the media about years of failure. We never looked at it as failure at Untold, as you will know. And maybe it is even better for Untold to not say what we think is obvious, but leave it to more independent observers. A person like the manager of Coventry. And that is what we will do.
In the run up to the Coventry game, the Coventry manager Steven Pressley, was inevitably chased by the media seeking interviews in which they could get him to say how his team would beat Arsenal.
In fact he resisted, saying that yes, of course, anything was possible but that he would need a lot of luck. Unlike so many lower league managers who get totally carried away, he was calm, reasoned, and at the same time friendly. Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live he said,
“I love Wenger because he has never compromised his values. People talk about the eight years (without a trophy at Arsenal) but that’s because there’s financial doping in the game. Wenger has built an unbelievable football club and stadium and a sustainable business model without having the money men behind him that some other clubs have had. Wenger’s been almost a victim of his success. A lot of his values are lost in the modern game with its vast amounts of money. Wenger develops young players, spends money prudently and runs his club in a good financial model. I love the fact that he’s been true to himself and that’s one of the reasons I’d like to see him win something.”
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He was asked to explain “financial doping” further, and made it perfectly clear he was talking about Chelsea, Man City, PSG and Monaco.
If you follow British football you’ll know about Pressley. He played in Scotland – including very unusually playing for both Rangers and Celtic and also had a not very successful period with Coventry City. But perhaps most famously when he was at Hearts he was the spokesman for the players in various confrontations and difficulties with the owner Vladimir Romanov.
He was Scotland’s assistant manager for a while under George Burley, and manager then Falkirk where he reports that he had to ask his mother not to attend games because of the abuse the fans were giving him – which he didn’t want her to experience.
After that he moved to Coventry in March 2013. The club went into administration after that and had a 10 point deduction.
Despite that and despite playing to crowds of only 2000 at home because of a fan boycott over the move away from their home stadium, and despite having no money to buy players he has turned an academy group of players into a decent League One side.
Coventry are now well placed in mid table and just 10 points off a play off place (not bad after having had to make up the points deduction), and winning more games than those around them.
Somehow I hope Coventry can pull themselves out of the misery they are in now. Even if only for their manager Mr. Pressley. And looking at what he has achieved starting with a 10 point deduction, he sure looks to be not only a rather good manager but also a smart person.
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